A quick disclaimer: I’m going to name my kid after this man someday.
It’s weird to think that just a year ago, I was sitting in a sanctuary. More than that, I was sitting in a pew, shoulder-to-shoulder with other church members, WITHOUT a mask. I wasn't even concerned about a relationship, as I was in a toxic one. One year later (a.k.a. right now), I’m single, laying down in my bed watching Elevation Church on Youtube Live… No wonder that church service feels like a lifetime ago.
REWIND: 24 HOURS BEFORE CHURCH, FEBRUARY 2020.
Another disclaimer: in my intro, I promised to share my real, unedited, authentic experiences. I pray that you do not judge me based on the decisions I made in the past. I cannot emphasize enough how hard it is to be a perfect, untainted 3C student. Certain aspects of this story do not align with the values of the Christian faith. The harsh truth is that they are aspects of collegiate society and 21st-century social constructs.
To say the least, it was a bad weekend. A bad night. A bad morning. A really bad sermon topic. A bad way to end the week. I was drowning in loneliness, anxiety, depression, and rejection. That night (Saturday before Sunday morning’s church service), I was found crying in the hallway of my residence hall. The boy was cute, nice, and extremely persistent. Even though I had rejected him multiple times before, he took a risk.
“Are you okay?”
His eyes glistened with nervousness. I don’t blame him. Every time he had spoken to me previously, I lashed the whip of my vernacular arsenal. I wanted to look at him and say, “what the **** do you think?” or, “Do I LOOK okay?!” The instinct was bitterness. The response was surrender.
For the first time, I didn’t lash out at him. I didn’t radiate hellfire on him. I didn’t dismiss him with a lethal glare from my sleep-deprived pupils. Every “normal” or “predictable” course of action that could be expected from AK did not materialize. Instead of fighting him, I hugged him. After over-explaining (and probably dramatizing) why I was crying in the hall, I had worked myself up into such a hysterical frenzy that I was not ready to return to my room. He offered a solution: stay the night in his room.
I looked at him quizzically. My look read, “uh, me? The Christian blogger? The girl with the Psalm 46:5 tapestry over her bed?” He understood what I had not said and answered my nonverbal questions with a nod. I told him I had to get up for church in the morning. He insisted that any alarm set for 8am was fine.
I can’t say that I regret this. I know the phrase “short-term gain, long-term pain.” I didn’t do anything that would inflict pain; be that emotional, physical, or spiritual. I slept on one side and he slept on his. There was another unspoken understanding of mutual respect for boundaries. Though our boundaries and morals were different, he respected my desire for distance. So much so that when he woke up that morning, I was already at church singing hymns. I was seated in the far back, pretending that I had not just slept with a boy I was not maritally bound to. The facade was working. Until the pastor announced his sermon topic.
In case you are unfamiliar or need a recap, the book of Ruth is often cited for one of three discussion topics: familial loyalty, the sanctity of marriage, and kinship. This pastor focused on the second topic. Just my luck.
I think the people around me sensed my discomfort. Despite my diligent note-taking and annotated Bible in hand, they could see through the veil. Perfection was my cover. The discomfort, ignorance, guilt, and sensitivity was like a bright purple sports bra underneath a white t-shirt. I was like a politician running for office. Nodding along with everything being discussed while simultaneously plotting my own personal agenda.
The thing that stuck out the most to me was the personality shift in Boaz. In chapters 1 and 2, we see the Boaz that is “a man of outstanding character” (Ruth 2:1 GW). Yet in the following chapter, we see the Boaz that most girls would regard with firm distaste. We see the 21st-century, womanizer, hook-up culture Boaz. The guy who ghosts you after hanging out with you: “So Ruth lay at his feet until morning. Then she got up early before anyone could be recognized. At that moment, Boaz said to himself, “I hope that no one will ever know that this woman came to the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:14 GW). Wow. And all this time, I thought Boaz was perfect…
I was like a politician running for office. Nodding along with everything being discussed while simultaneously plotting my own personal agenda.
Words are just words though. Actions speak louder than words. His actions were true to his word: he took Ruth as his wife, and fulfilled his familial duty as her kinsman’s redeemer.
It’s so rare to find a man that will go through with his word after sleeping with you. Especially in college. “The Boaz Complex” is hard to find in a man. Not every man has it. I have to believe that some men do. Personally, I have only met one (Shoutout to my favorite Arizonian Johnnie - you know who you are).
One way I’m seeking out a man with the Boaz Complex is working on myself. I’m working on actually being vulnerable, and disallowing my creative mind to create false realities. And of course, loving others properly, not self-servingly.
Desperately clinging to what I want only portrays me as a woman with a personal agenda. Letting go of what I want to find what I so painfully need proves I am a woman that is ever-changing. Ever-evolving. Ever-learning. Ever-maturing.
so are you.
all the peace,